Loggerhead turtle near the wreck of the ClarisLoggerhead turtle near the wreck of the Claris

Mark Tozer took part in an Adelaide Scuba boat dive on the Claris wreck on 24th May. He and his buddy were fortunate to see a turtle during the dive.


Mark Tozer (left) with Haixia Wen & Carl Charter  onboard Adelaide Scuba’s Seahorse before their dive on the Claris

Mark was even more fortunate in that only he had a camera with him. He managed a handful of shots of the turtle. These created a bit of interest when he posted them on his Facebook page with the comments “Fun dive on the Claris today and got to see a large Loggerhead Turtle. Not something you see in SA waters too often (or ever)”.

The turtle is thought to have been about 1 metre in size. It had a few barnacles on the back of its shell.


A cropped image of Mark’s turtle photo
(Showing the barnacles on the turtle’s shell)

The turtle photos were passed on to Southern Australia Sea Turtle Sightings’ Facebook page for distribution amongst the group.

World Turtle Day – May 23

Some Facebook comments regarding the turtle sighting referred to it having been made on World Turtle Day. According to Wikipedia, World Turtle Day is actually 23rd May. It was just that whilst it was 24th May in Australia, it was still 23rd May in some other parts of the world. There is actually a Facebook page for World Turtle Day .

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, World Sea Turtle Day is on 16th June and it is “a day used to honor and highlight the importance of sea turtles”.

Holly the Loggerhead Turtle

A loggerhead turtle was found floating near Kingston, South Australia, on 20th November 2012. According to the official records, it was found at the high tide line, belly up in sea weed. It was emaciated (a floater). It was rehydrated for six days before being able to eat soft foods (small squid, small pieces of pilchards) after day 8. Here are some more facts about it:

– Initial weight: 2.14kg
– Release weight: (date of transfer to SeaWorld 4.21kg)
– Weight gained whilst in care in South Australia: 2.07kg
– Initial diagnosis – Plastic ingestion, gut impaction

After examination and stabilisation by a vet, it was taken to the Australian Marine Wildlife Research & Rescue Organisation at Torrens Island in SA and rehabilitated. Five months later, it was sent to Sea World on the Gold Coast where genetic samples were taken. It was thus identified as having hatched in the Middle East. Most loggerhead turtles in the Middle East nest in Oman. As a result of the discovery, it was decided to fly it to Western Australia for release in the Indian Ocean rather than release it into the Pacific Ocean.

The turtle, given the name Holly, was released at Exmouth, WA on 19th July 2013.

Conservation status and prior sightings in SA

The Atlas of Living Australia’s records (shown below) reveal that Loggerhead Turtles have previously been found widely distributed around the state. The species is listed as Endangered in South Australia, consistent with its IUCN listing as a globally endangered species.

Loggerhead turtle sightings in South Australia
Loggerhead turtle sightings in South Australia

By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

4 thought on “Loggerhead Turtle Sightings in South Australia”
  1. The Claris is a shipwreck located about 4km west of the Dredge. She is around 12m in length and lies at a depth of 28m.
    GPS marks for the wreck are: 35:00:250 S 138:21:089 E (WGS84).

  2. Today whilst in our boat we saw a turtle swimming with its head out of the water near Garden Island, near Pt Adelaide. I thought it was a floating log until it ducked under. Its front filppers had a span of roughly one meter. Its head was dark and shiny, and about 100mm wide. I have never heard of a sea turtle in South Australia?!

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